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Institute Honors Former CIA Directors as Scholar-Statesmen

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Trustee Joan Kahn Honored at Event

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As a snowstorm swept over New York City last month, nearly 300 guests convened for The Washington Institute’s 2018 Scholar-Statesman Award that honored two former Central Intelligence Agency directors who played a pivotal role in defending the country against foreign threats: Gen. Michael Hayden (USAF Ret.) and George Tenet.

The Institute’s most prestigious prize was presented at a gala dinner in New York City that also paid tribute to Washington Institute Trustee Joan Kahn.

Gen. Michael Hayden, a retired four-star general in the United States Air Force, is the only person to have led the country's two premier intelligence agencies: the National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005 and the Central Intelligence Agency from 2006 to 2009. General Hayden played a significant role in countering rising cybersecurity threats. He is currently a principal at the Chertoff Group, and the author of a memoir, Playing the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror, and The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies.

George Tenet served as the director of the Central Intelligence agency from 1997 to 2004 under the Clinton and Bush administrations, making him the second-longest serving director in U.S. history. In his role, Tenet undertook the shifting national security of the post-Cold War era. President George W. Bush awarded Tenet the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004. Tenet is the author of At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA, and he currently serves as a managing director of Allen & Company.

William Davidson Distinguished Fellow Dennis Ross interviewed former CIA directors Gen. Michael Hayden (USAF Ret.) and George Tenet on the occasion of their receiving the Institute’s Scholar-Statesman Award in New York City on November 15, 2018. In presenting the Scholar-Statesman Award to the honorees, Institute Chairman Jim Schreiber praised the former officials as “two men whose careers have transcended the partisan divide, leaders who were each chosen by presidents of both parties to lead our most secret intelligence agencies. In so doing, we honor two leaders who understood that behind every piece of intelligence, every policy directive, every field operation, are men and women who put their own lives at risk for the welfare of their fellow Americans.”

During their conversation with Amb. Ross, Hayden and Tenet addressed current U.S. national security issues including global terrorism, the expansion of Iranian influence in the Middle East, the politicization of intelligence, the need for strong partnerships with foreign governments, and Israel’s increasing relationships with Arab states.

Davidson Distinguished Fellow Ambassador Dennis Ross led an insightful and provocative conversation with the Scholar-Statesmen in which they shared their lessons from careers at the pinnacle of U.S. national security and their significance for today.

The Institute also honored Institute Trustee Joan Kahn, a woman of extraordinary grace and selfless generosity. Joan and her late husband, Mike, funded the Institute's David Kahn and Douglas Kahn Fellowship in Middle East Security. Joan is vice president of the Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO) and served as the group's NGO representative to the United Nations. Beyond her extensive nonprofit leadership roles, Joan has been a board member of the American Friends of the Louvre since 2012.

Trustee Gregg Abramson honored his late parents, former President Richard and Trustee Lorraine Abramson, and their enduring legacy, including the exciting Abramson Young Leadership Program.

The dinner was co-chaired by, The Abramson Family, Jill and Jay Bernstein, Carol and Roger Einiger, Mitzi and Warren Eisenberg, Susan and Leonard Feinstein, Buzzy Geduld, Stefanie and Douglas Kahn, Shelly and Michael Kassen, Lori and Zach Schreiber, Wendy and James Schreiber, Sofia and Mike Segal, Shonni Silverberg and John Shapiro. The vice chairs were Sol Barer, Wendy Fisher and Dennis Goodman, Ruth and Sid Lapidus, Phyllis and Bernard “Bud” Leventhal, Daniel Mintz and Meredith Berkman, Robin Chemers Neustein, Johanna and Lief Rosenblatt, Denise and Thomas Stern, Betsy and Walter “Wally” Stern, and Nina and Gary Wexler. The honorary chairs were Ahuva and Martin J. Gross, Susan and Roger Hertog, Merryl H. Tisch and James S. Tisch.